Thank You

Visited a new Wednesday night service last week, and did not play (novel idea). It’s a midweek service that my wife and I have been wanting to check out for a while; only this time, she couldn’t come. So I walked in by myself. And you know what? That’s like, really scary! I walked in as a brand new, random guy; not the worship leader, with setlists to check and pre-service meetings to go over…not the guitarist, with extra capo’s in my car that I can give the pretense of going to get when there’s awkward downtime…just me. Eventually I met up with a friend of mine and no longer did I feel like the lonely creeper hanging in the back pretending to text message people while I’m really just changing my ringtone back and forth. (It was a young adults service, and at 26, I feel like I’m a young adult. Until I saw all the 19 year olds. I seriously felt like Father Time.) So it ended up cool, and it was a good service. And, remembering again what it’s like to walk into a new church for the first time without having the luxury of ‘being in the band’ or being with someone (haven’t done that since before I was dating my wife), I just wanted to commend them on a couple things. Of course there was some not so good stuff too, but you gotta expect that anywhere there’s, well…people. So, new church I visited once:

  • thank you for your greeters saying, ‘Hello, welcome’, instead of giving me an awkward and usually inter-gender hug and then asking how my purity has been this week.
  • keyboardist, thank you for playing pads on the slow stuff, and then rather then getting bitter that the keyboards usually can’t be heard when the song builds back up, for taking your hands off the keyboard and worshiping.
  • pastor guy, thanks for not letting the chorus of oddly placed ‘amens’ make your ego swell up and cause you to jump onto an emotional tangent of ‘nations rising in the victory that is our birthright’ that has nothing to do with your message.
  • thank you for talking about missions.
  • thank you for not making new people stand so that we can ‘feel welcome.’
  • worship leaders, thank you for taking turns so that my worship doesn’t become complacent upon one person.
  • lighting dudes, thank you for creating different moods for different songs, but with subtlety. That means without the strobe.
  • drummer, thank you for quietly keeping time during the down parts, as it’s a well-known fact that us worship leaders and guitarists have absolutely hopeless tempo…and that’s even with delay pedals on.
  • thank you for allowing your guitarists, bassist, and keyboardist to have their amps on stage.
  • thank you for making sure you gave people the chance to decide to give their love to God for the first time at the end.

Oh! And worship leaders! Huge props to you guys for making this the first ‘big’ church I’ve been to in a while where the worship leaders don’t have the Brewster ‘my hair is bigger than my face’ haircut or the lead dude from Hillsong United’s ‘indie meets Grease’ haircut. Not that there’s anything wrong with those styles, but it is refreshing to see worship teams without them…just every once in a while. Especially seeing as I was so nervous at walking in alone that I wore my ‘please think I’m Chris Martin’ jacket. Unfortunately, I did enough posing for all of us. ;)

Splendid.
Karl.

24 thoughts on “Thank You

  1. oh the jitters! :)

    glad it was a great experience. it really did sound like a legit, and encouraging experience.
    i’m sure you’ll be going back?

  2. I had the experience of being new to a church a few weeks ago. I was visiting a friend’s church and after being there for about 10 minutes I was suddenly hugged by a giant.

  3. That was educational — lots of things to keep in mind about how to welcome newcomers at your home church. On the “young adult” service thing: that’s an interesting subject although it kind of reminds me of teenagers wanting their own thing with no “adults” around. I guess the question is at what point are you an adult and can relate to other adults whether 22 or 75. And at what age should you no longer show up at “youth” functions? If it’s really needed, why not dump the blended services and have separate worship services with different “styles” which are open to all adults? Keep in mind, I’m way past youth. :-)

  4. .dP.–I think we’ll probably check it out again. :) It was a really good time worshiping God.

    Sam–lol That’s awesome! Ah, the good ‘ol church hugs.

    Matt–hehe Is that old or young? It’s a weird age, because some people look at me as if I’m basically 75 already, and others look at me as if I’m pretty much still 12. haha

    Jonathan–haha No, not really. I’m pretty petty and complicated, but that’s about it! lol

    Randy–great points. Ya, after the service when I went around and met a few people, it was cool because there was everyone from 15 to 50. I think they refer to it as ‘young adult’ because that just triggers in people’s minds, ‘Oh…upbeat music and laid back atmosphere.’ But you’re right, we should probably stop naming our services according to age group.

    Rhoy–ya, seriously! I think it’s just human nature…we like to feel like we belong, and it’s hard to do that when you’re alone, at a new place, and are expecting that new place to maybe be awkward. It kind of jolted me into thinking about sometimes what a huge step it is for believers and non-believers alike to walk into the doors of a church, and what I can do to really reach out to them. Like, not just an awkward hug and a bulletin, but how to really get to know them.

  5. I think it’s crucial that we visit other Churches so that we can feel what it’s like to be new and to experience different worship styles. I try to do that at least once a quarter.

    Let me guess… you went to Crossroads? ;)

  6. Glad that you found a church to visit, though I dont know what worship is going to be like without you, where ever I go. I’ve tried really hard to make my worship about worship and less concerned about the music, but I have to say you’ve got a talent and I’ve enjoyed it so much. If you find yourself on stage again, please share because I’d be interested to attend! We try Revival this weekend…

  7. Eric–I totally agree. Once a quarter seems like a good deal. I need to do that more often!

    As for the name of the church…man, you’re good! ;)

    Sheryn–thank you so much for the encouragement. It’s been wonderful to worship with you as well. I’ll definitely let you know where God leads me! :)

  8. “Wow, California sounds complicated”

    Love that comment! Need to replace ‘California’ with ‘contemporary worship leadership’, however. It can make you crazy.

    Let’s see, Karl mentioned 5 things pertaining to worship (if you include lighting-which you should) that could have tainted the experience for somebody. Add 5 more for the really important ones he forgot to obsess about; now multiply this by the number of people in the room–I’ve got no clue, but let’s say 200. 5 plus 5 times 200, that’s 2000 ways you can screw up a brother or sister’s time before the Throne. No pressure.

    You’re not petty Karl, just passionate. I feel for you! Oh, and just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they are NOT out to get you ;-)

  9. lol Ya, good point…things are pretty complicated! Don’t know if we need them that complicated, but at the same time, don’t know if it’s necessarily a bad thing either.

    And I am a little paranoid…unfortunately I have been to the church before where they make you join an accountability group and list your sins on the spot. lol Ah, churches.

  10. JayDub– I have to respond to what you’re saying with sort of a question … not because I have the answers but because I think it’s worthwhile for all of us (and by us I probably mean “worship”* leaders/those involved in “worship”* but also could mean all of us church insiders, if you will) to think about:

    How much of the degree to which we obsess about the details of “worship”* is because it really is that super-important and how much of it is because we have made it that important artificially? I mean, even as a typical believer looking for a new church home, do we maybe inflate a bit the importance of those details of “worship”* style because we are struggling with choosing our church based on arbitrary preferences/comfort level instead of more important spiritual factors?

    Again, I’m not saying I have the answers– I most certainly don’t. I just often think that we — modern (as in current) American Christian church insiders — make church so much about the little nit-picky details that happen for 30-90 minutes once a week that it’s actually detrimental to maintaining proper perspective on the other 9,990 minutes.

    Giving God our best is important, and I don’t want to minimize what you, Jay, and “we” do, because it’s very important … but if my hitting a wrong chord or bad lighting ruins my brother’s worship, I think I’m more or less correct in questioning my brother’s sincerity.

    I don’t know, I’m probably essentially bringing up balance to a community here that already understands the balance but the conversation happens to be about one half of the issues in question … but I kind of can’t help myself. I’m a questioner.

    How do we as leaders keep a healthy sense of responsibility and reverence about leading “worship”* without falling into pointless obsession? How do we help the congregation do the same? How do we as current or potential future believers searching for a church home focus on what’s truly important? Is it even realistic to think that one can discover the true heart of a church other than being slapped by some unpleasant reality 3 months in?

    I guess I’m also in “church-shopping” mode and I’m worried about going about it the right way, and am projecting. And rambling. And hoping that the discussion will be helpful to me.

    *”Worship” as in, “We had worship, then the message,” which is a terrible use of the word but I don’t think we’ve come up with anything better now have we?

  11. Rapha-
    What a great counterpoint! Excellent!

    I spend 80% of my ministry time at front-of-house, not on guitar, so my experience is similar to the worship leader, but not identical. My goal is to be “invisible”–nobody is ever distracted by the snare that is too raspy, the preacher that cannot be heard till his sixth word, and that “beautiful” pad in the background doesn’t overwhelm the post-message prayer.

    Should this be a big deal to the long-time member or new visitor that is well-established in their walk with Christ? Probably not. But does it make a difference to the new visitor who is trying to figure out how to find a new church home, or why that guy in the next cubicle who attends “blank” Church seems inordinately joyful in all circumstances? Well, in today’s world, it may very well, whether that’s right or not.

    I see the roll of those in worship and tech ministry as being that of the “gatherers”, almost like the Border Collie gathering in the sheep. Goal: Get ‘em to the gate. What happens after that isn’t my primary responsibility. I’m sure there are lots of holes in that analogy, BTW, but it provides me a focus point that I can also model for the other FOH members of my team.

    Rick Warren talks about how some churches are great at bringing in the newbies, some are great at equiping the mature Christian, but few are the churches that effectively shepard souls from their first wide-eyed visit, to their first (or twentieth) mission trip or small group leadership.

    Your questions/perspective are an excellent reminder that each soul in a seat is on a journey, and not necessarily at the same point in that journey as the person seated next to them. Our efforts have to remain cognizant of that fact, while not getting bogged down in the details- as you so articulately note.

    My wife and I have changed churches on several occasions, mostly due to the needs of our children. By the second or third change, we were not asking ourselves if we liked the worship format or the youth pastor, but rather, “when the honeymoon is over–and it will be–will we grow here?

    Tough, tough question. Thanks for the great discussion! Hope we haven’t hijacked the comments too much!

  12. Great points, Rapha and JayDub! I love this. lol There is no hijacking on this site! Discussions are the crux of it. :)

    I’ll throw in my two cents. Worship ‘is’ so much more than music. To truly show someone what they are worth, a song can’t possibly be enough. But still, a song is a great way to show that emotional part of worship.

    So, in that sense, I think it is very possible to ruin someone’s worship experience with a wrong chord, even if their heart is sincere. We took them out of the moment, and ruined that emotional connection they were feeling. And it’d be nice not to do that. But is it the worst thing in the world? Absolutely not. Because if we’ve already established that worship is so much more than that ‘emotional connection through music once a week on Sunday mornings’, then it’s entirely possible for someone to not connect with God via emotion because of a wrong chord, but still express their worship of Him two minutes later in how they love and react to those around them. Which, Biblically in John 15 and Matthew 22, is how God is most glorified.

    So, do we put too much emphasis on our ‘modern church Sunday morning services?’ Sometimes, ya. And do we put too little emphasis on them? Sure, sometimes. I think the point is to find that balance between doing a great job worshiping God in our weekly community celebrations and outreaches, but at the same time to never ever think that that is all there is to glorifying Him.

    That’s what I think right now. Hopefully as time goes on my perspective will mature more and more! :)

    • I love talking about this kind of stuff. :)

      I think I’m definitely off specifically with the wrong chord example. Pretty much anyone attention would be jolted to what’s going on with the music, which I’m pretty sure we could all agree is bad.

      Allow me to clarify or perhaps re-state. I’m starting to drift toward the conclusion that there is a level of detail of quality (I don’t how I feel about using that word, but it’s the best I can think of) that we notice/think about/strive for that is only particularly noticeable to “church connoisseurs” like we are.

      Or maybe a better way to put it would be the things us “church shoppers” are likely to notice and the things a real unchurched person is likely to notice are two entirely different sets of things (granted with a fair bit of overlap). And maybe the longer we are involved in ministry the more our vision becomes attuned to the former set of things and less to the latter.

  13. Hmm, great point! And I wonder if it’s even possible for those of us in the church to realize what things a ‘regular’ person would and wouldn’t notice. Maybe we need like, a token unchurched person to screen every service? lol But, kind of serious. :)

    Great point, bro. I totally agree.

  14. Indeed, being able to get honest feedback from a seeker who is entirely unfamiliar with your service/worship structure could be eye-opening.

    And then again, it could also be that the really important stuff is what the seeker DIDN’T notice.

    Circle back to the stuff you (Karl) were thankful for in the original post. All those things pertaining to musicianship (and lights) were little contributions that helped create a more seamless ministry gathering. I wouldn’t expect our new visitor to rip off a list of things that did NOT distract from the experience.

    Hey, maybe Karl should become a worship critic for hire! I’d love to have him drop into one of our services, then debrief him afterwards. No blogging about it, though! ;-)

    • great idea! wanna come to Perth Australia?
      If you get yourself here we will pay you for an hours work in the service!

      …but actually a great idea!

  15. haha I don’t know if I’d be able to do that! Just in visiting new churches over the last couple weeks, I don’t really have much bad to say. It’s just nice to be able to worship without having any responsibilities!! :D

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